Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Tackling the pandemic will require a new, collective way of thinking about public health and society as a whole.
In 1941, with war tearing through Europe and Asia, and America on the precipice of joining the conflict, President Franklin D. Roosevelt compelled and inspired industries and individuals to rally for the greater good. Food was rationed without rioting, and car plants all but stopped producing automobiles in favor of tanks and fuselages. By 1944, American factory workers were building nearly 100,000 warplanes a year — or about 11 per hour.The United States is again faced with a crisis that calls for a national response, demanding a mobilization of resources that the free market or individual states cannot achieve on their own. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 187,000 people around the globe and claimed more than 7,400 lives already. Based on what they know about the virus so far, experts say that between two million and 200 million people could be infected in the coming weeks and months, in the United States alone. If the worst comes to pass, as many as 1.7 million of our neighbors and loved ones could die. How many people are affected depends on the actions that we as a nation take right now. Understandably, many American leaders have been focused on shoring up an economy that’s hemorrhaging money and trust. Many of the measures being advanced by Congress, like paid sick leave, are crucial. But the best hope for the economy, and the nation as a whole, is a strong public health response to the coronavirus.Confusion has reigned, among health care professionals and laypeople alike, over when or whether to test patients, quarantine the exposed and isolate the sick — even over how worried to be. Part of the problem is a supply shortage that is already growing dire in some places. But another problem is the lack of consistent messages from leaders, President Trump in particular. For weeks now, clear statements — for example, that the worst is yet to come — have been undercut by blithe assurances that everything is under control.
Much of the country is facing a grave shortage of ventilators, intensive care beds, the equipment and chemicals needed for testing, and all manner of medical supplies, including gloves, masks, swabs and wipes. More space is also needed to put these supplies to use healing patients. That means isolation wards for the sick and quarantine facilities for people who are exposed to the coronavirus. A number of hospitals and state and local governments are working to secure those resources. Some cities and states have purchased hotels and turned them into quarantine facilities. Others are in bidding wars with one another for ventilators, I.C.U. beds and other essential equipment. If the current projections hold — and if countries in Europe and cities in China are any indication — neither these siloed efforts nor the nation’s federally maintained stash of medical supplies will be enough to face what’s coming. Worse still, pitting states against one another for limited and essential supplies leaves poorer states at the mercy of the rich ones, and the states hit first against those that will be hard hit in the coming weeks. Yet on Monday, Mr. Trump told a group of governors desperate for equipment like ventilators, “Try getting it yourselves.”
Instead, the federal government needs to step in to sharply ramp up production of all these goods, just as it ramped up production of munitions during World War II. That will most likely necessitate the use of the Defense Production Act, a law that enables the president to mobilize domestic industries in times of crisis. President Trump has not demonstrated the democratic instincts or administrative competence to inspire the confidence that he ought to be trusted with even more executive authority. But he’s the only president America’s got, and this crisis requires White House action. It’s not hard to imagine, with proper organization and support, American factories producing ventilators, masks, hand sanitizer, coronavirus tests and other medical equipment at a scale that would meet what the crisis demands. But it won’t happen overnight, and it certainly won’t happen without leadership. “We could increase production fivefold in a 90- to 120-day period,” Chris Kiple, chief executive of Ventec Life Systems, a Washington State company that makes ventilators used in hospitals, homes and ambulances, told Forbes last week. Mr. Kiple estimated that current worldwide production capacity for ventilators is about 40,000 a year. Editors’ Picks
The government will also need to deploy the National Guard or the Army to convert facilities like convention centers, hotels and parking lots into testing sites, isolation units and humane quarantines. In the absence of government leadership, companies can still take it upon themselves to help the effort. In France, for example, LVMH, which owns luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, announced on Sunday that it was repurposing perfume production lines to make hand sanitizer and other anti-viral products.
Once supplies and space are secured, human capacity will need to be addressed. There are not enough health care workers who are trained and equipped to treat emergent, contagious lung infections in intensive care units. If those workers fall ill and are themselves quarantined and isolated — as some of them almost certainly will be, given the present lack of protective equipment — more will have to be trained and prepared. That challenge will be exacerbated by the fact that large conferences and training sessions are likely to be forbidden in the months ahead. The federal government can help by conveying the urgency of the need — and calling on health care workers to volunteer for such training — and then by creating the necessary virtual modules and webinars. Federal leaders can also help by calling on states to waive licensing requirements for out-of-state medical workers, as Massachusetts has already done. There will not be one giant outbreak here in the United States, but rather many smaller ones that will vary in scope, size and duration. That means some parts of the country will have a much greater need than others. The ability of any worker to deploy quickly from a low-need area to a high-need one will save valuable time as the number of confirmed cases surges in the days ahead.
Public Works for Public Health
During World War II, housewives, students, retirees and the unemployed moved into the labor force to help build tanks, planes and armaments. It was a full-scale national effort — and something similar is called for today. This will take some creativity. In Spain, final-year medical students are being pulled into clinics and hospitals for more routine tasks to allow the staff to focus on critical cases. In the United States, retired hospital workers are being urged back into the work force to provide needed expertise.But the larger community can also pitch in. The government could train America’s newly unemployed to sanitize hospital equipment or to deliver food to the elderly and the immune-compromised. Child care for hospital workers on the front lines is desperately needed. Through a new public works program, corps of people could carry out infection control in nursing homes and other high-risk facilities — or workers of all kinds could be taught how best to protect themselves. There could even be a network of individuals tasked with making phone calls to combat loneliness for people in nursing homes and prisons while they’re unable to receive visitors. These are just a few possibilities for putting people to work confronting the crisis, to be sure. Any such programs stand a much better chance of success if the federal government encourages them and directs them through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Clear, Strong Call to Action
In recent days, the president has begun calling on industry leaders to help: to develop vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments for the virus; to develop websites that might clarify and expedite testing; and to cede their parking lots to the needs of the public. It’s time for him to call on the rest of the country as well. Not just to scrub hands and forgo basketball games, Broadway shows and the local bar, but to meet this moment with urgency and altruism. Many Americans are eager to help their fellow citizens. Would they ration their own consumption to help save them, if that’s what things came to? During World War II, the American government raised corporate and personal income taxes, pushed the business community onto a wartime footing, drafted millions into the military or civilian defense forces, rationed civilian goods in service of military goals and drastically reorganized society by offering jobs to women and minorities who had long been excluded from them. The society that emerged from the war was different — stronger — than the one that went into it.
It is remarkable what the country can do when the lives of its citizens are in peril, and the final outcome is uncertain. What it takes is leadership to summon that spirit to act in the national interest.
Syed Irfan Mehdi
The brave women should come to the forefront to actually make suppressed and oppressed ones avail such legal remedies, so that a real change can take place.The issues of women rights and violence against the female gender are a genuine concern in our country. Undoubtedly, there is a need for an effective movement to highlight these rights and violence. It will be better if oppressed women themselves take part in this movement and join this movement as front line representators of women rights.
In this way they can address the real issues because they belong to such class which is suffering and facing most of the violence. These women are real and prime victims. Any class, which has an easy excess to education, having freedom in their choice of dressing, independent to go anywhere, can not make this movement meaningful and effective. No body can deny this fact that the women and girls of "Aurat March" had all these privilegs; they were educated; most of them were college or university students; dressed up according to their choice and could go anywhere they want. They don't have any restrictions and there shouldn't be any coercive restriction upon them. They have the courage to report sexual harassment case in their campus and job sectors. They have ability to establish a bond of mutual understanding with their husbands.
In order to make this movement effective, they should work to bring the real victims of abuse and violence in "Aurat March", along with them they should put their own demands with their consent and consensus. The presence of real victims in the march will make people realize the gravity of the issue of woman subjection. When the real victims will join the protest and tell their stories themselves, the people who do not believe that women suppression takes place would be able to reconsider their statements and will be made to believe that matters pertaining to women are not made-up stories, but are existing issues.
Media should play its role to highlight each and every case of violence in a comprehensive way.
Legal course of action should also complement these social movements. In other words, such social movements have already resulted in making laws such as Protection of Women Against Harassment at Work Place and Protection of Women Against Violence Act, etc. All we need is to get these laws implemented. The brave women should come to the forefront to actually make suppressed and oppressed ones avail such legal remedies, so that a real change can take place.
The top court on Monday expressed concerns over the poor state of the health sector in the province, noting that most recruitments in the department were made based on nepotism.
This was stated as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad, who heard a petition on transferring a case of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) health department from the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).Chief Justice Ahmad remarked that the situation in the K-P health department is quite bad, noting that several cases about the department are currently being heard in different courts.CJP Ahmed said that whenever someone is appointed in the department, around five cases are filed against them. The court directed the PHC to issue a verdict in the case within three months.
Defamation against PM
Meanwhile, a former leader and ex-MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Fouzia Bibi has filed a petition before the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the delays by a local court in hearing a defamation suit she had filed against incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The petition, filed through Ghufranullah, stated that the PM Imran had ejected her from the party after accusing her of selling her vote during the Senate elections. Such an allegation, Ghufranullah contended, was fake.
The petitioner recalled that she had filed a defamation suit in a local court but it has been pending for over a year now. She cited that under the Defamation Ordinance 2002, a trial court was obligated to conclude defamation suits within three months.
The ex-lawmaker alleged that the prime minister is trying to influence court matters and therefore her application was still pending.
Strike at PHC
Lawyers in Peshawar on Monday boycotted proceedings at the PHC and all sub-ordinate courts for not nominating the PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth for elevation to the Supreme Court (SC).
Owing to the strike, thousands of cases in the courts were adjourned without any proceedings and the litigants returned disappointed without their cases being heard.
Meanwhile, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Bar Association (K-PBA) has announced to extend its strike to other parts of the province on Tuesday.
In this regard, K-PBA Vice-Chairman Shahid Raza Malik contended that the junior judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) have been appointed to the apex court while the PHC chief justice was ignored.He asserted that such discrimination and the practice of giving precedence to juniors over seniors was unconstitutional.
Govt contractor released
An Additional and District Sessions Judge Liaquat Ali approved the appeal of a convicted government contractor and annulled his year-long prison sentence awarded by a lower court in a bogus cheque case.The petitioner’s counsel, Attaullah, argued that the Shehzad had filed a case against his client, Nasir Ahmed, on April 20, 2017.In the First Information Report (FIR), the complainant had asserted that the suspect had given him a bogus cheque worth Rs8.8 million.
The lawyer added that a lower court sentenced Ahmed to a year in prison. However, he had filed an appeal against the verdict in the PHC.
By Ayaz Gul
The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan jumped Monday from 52 to more than 180, with most of the patients being returnees from Iran. The situation has raised fears the outbreak could pose a major challenge to an already strained national health care system.
No deaths or confirmed local transmissions have been reported, and officials say almost all of the cases involve returnees from countries such as China, Iran, Syria, the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia.
Most of the patients were in the southern Sindh province, where 146 people were being kept in isolation wards. Two others were sent home after recovery. Hundreds more were in quarantine camps in different provincial urban centers. Provincial government spokesman Murtaza Wahab noted a large number of the cases involved pilgrims who returned from Taftaan, a major southwestern crossing point on the Iranian border in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Local officials have warned an unspecified number of returnees used traditional illegal border crossings to avoid being placed in quarantine camps, raising fears of further transmissions.
Pakistan has sealed its borders with Iran and landlocked Afghanistan until early April to curb the movement of people and goods and stem the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
Authorities have also delayed the post-winter reopening of the country's only overland crossing with China, where the coronavirus caused most of the deaths and infections before spreading to other nations.
Last Friday, the Pakistani government ordered all educational institutions to shut, limited international flights, closed cinemas and banned wedding parties as well as large gatherings at public places across the country of more than 220 million people.
Beijing's ambassador to Islamabad, Yao Jing, told Chinese state media Monday that China has provided Pakistan with 12,000 test kits, 300,000 masks, 10,000 protective suits and a financial assistance package of $4 million to build hospitals to deal with the emergency. China has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan over the past five years, building roads, ports and power plants. The massive collaboration has brought thousands of Chinese engineers and other experts to Pakistan.
Existing public health emergency
Officials acknowledge the coronavirus outbreak could pose a serious challenge to Pakistan's stressed medical health care system, blaming the situation on a lack of funding, neglect, nepotism and corruption. "The current condition of the public health care sector in Pakistan is not less than a national tragedy and a national security issue," Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said at a seminar in Islamabad earlier this month.
Pakistan, together with neighboring Afghanistan, are the only two countries where poliovirus remains endemic, he noted.
The World Health Organization office in Islamabad told VOA in a written response that Pakistan has the highest number of people suffering from hepatitis C, after China. An estimated 8 million people are living with hepatitis C, more than 10% of the world’s total and another 4 million are estimated infected with hepatitis B,” it said. Last year, Pakistan experienced an unprecedented HIV outbreak in the city of Larkana in Sindh, with more than 1,000 children reported infected with the virus. The WHO says many of the diagnosed children are infected with hepatitis B and C as well.
Pakistani and WHO officials have identified several pockets of HIV and viral hepatitis B and C in various parts of Pakistan "due to unsafe injection practices and unsafe blood transfusion and improper hospital waste management."
Mirza said Pakistan is the fifth largest country in terms of the number of people suffering from tuberculosis. The population is growing at a rate of 2.4 percent, which will double the number of people in Pakistan in the next 30 years, the minister cautioned.